Some campus-level jobs will also be in jeopardy as declining enrollment forces Fort Worth ISD to reorganize, according to audio of a staff meeting verified by the Fort Worth Report.
How many jobs might be affected was not discussed during a behind-closed-doors meeting on March 10 when top administrators announced to more than 100 employees, including administrators, that their positions may be eliminated for the 2023-24 academic year.
The meeting audio was posted on Facebook by FWISD Watchdog, an anonymously run page that frequently posts about the school district. Two employees who attended the meeting confirmed the accuracy of the audio. A district spokesperson did not confirm or deny the audio.
Fort Worth ISD’s School Leadership Department is working to reduce or realign staff to fit the declining enrollment, said Raúl Peña, chief talent officer.
“Everything is being looked at very closely to make sure we have the best aligned ratios that support the district and that support the budget,” Peña said at the meeting.
Since 2017, Fort Worth ISD has lost an average of 2,436 students per year.
Across the district, 38 campuses each lost more than 25% of their enrolled students between 2011 and 2021, according to a Fort Worth Report analysis of enrollment data from the Texas Education Agency.
Records obtained by the Report show Fort Worth ISD pegged its enrollment at 72,811 in October as part of snapshot day, which is when schools across the state submit their enrollment figures to the TEA. Finalized enrollment figures are expected from TEA later this spring.
The 2023-24 school year projected enrollment is 70,657, according to documents the Report obtained through an open records request.
In the audio, Chief of Schools Jerry Moore explained campus-level staffing decisions are being handled through school budget allocations. Staffing allocations and budgets were released to elementary and secondary campuses in February, according to the district’s budget timeline.
In the 2021-22 school year, the district’s average students-to-teacher ratio was 14 to 1.
At the March 10 meeting, Superintendent Angélica Ramsey, Peña and Moore emphasized the district’s reorganization is focused on students.
Researchers at Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab, a center focused on school finance, previously told the Report these kinds of decisions are difficult, but the key is to focus on students.
Peña listed some areas of improvement that Fort Worth ISD has to keep at the forefront of its reorganization: Student achievement, low reading scores, and finding ways to boost enrollment.
“Improving the confidence level of our constituents, our stakeholders and our parents so that (they know) we’re doing everything possible to improve academics and the wellbeing of their students as they go into college and are college ready after high school,” Peña said at the meeting.
Tougher decisions likely are coming soon — including the possibility of closing schools, according to school finance experts.
Fort Worth Report journalist Kristen Barton contributed to this story.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.